Sunday, January 26, 2014

BBQ Flavored Cheese Crisps


Lately, I've seen a lot of recipes calling for smoked paprika.  I'm a huge fan of paprika, but for some odd reason, smoked paprika had yet to grace the inside of my overflowing spice cabinet until just recently.  Finally spotting some in the supermarket and remembering to actually buy it, should have set off the trumpets and confetti since I'm notorious for forgetting to buy stuff - even with a list in hand. Wow!  If you haven't tried smoked paprika yet, get some!  NOW!  I've been putting that stuff on everything.

I was making a batch of my Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Wings the other day and decided to swap out the regular paprika for the smoked and was pleasantly surprised by the subtle hint of an almost BBQ flavor.  Not a huge difference, but it added a nice extra bit of smokiness to the already smoky chipotle flavor, as well as a bit more sweetness.  Suddenly, it literally was like a light bulb went off over my head.  Okay, my son had in fact put the lights on, but I had that feeling again like if I just stood still for a moment, there was a good idea trying to find it's way out.

Here it is folks.  BBQ Cheese Crisps!  I'll spare you all of the details of my original adventure into perfecting cheese crisps, but you can check it out right here  if you haven't made them before, are struggling to get yours crispy and crunchy, or are bored and would like to read about my struggles with microwaving cheese.

If you're like me and missing BBQ chips, give this a whirl!  You can customize the flavor to suit your tastes by adding a little chipotle powder, cayenne powder, or black pepper.  Make the base recipe here, and then add a little bit of whatever you like to a batch of your crisps to see what you really enjoy. 

BBQ Flavor Seasoning-

Ingredients-
I try to reuse old spice containers as much as possible.  For this, I used one of those small containers from McCormick so that I could sprinkle on the seasoning and save the rest for next time.  In your container, mix together your ingredients and give it a good shake to make sure it's mixed all the way through.  I know not everyone can use stevia, so you can leave it out, you'll just have a less sweet BBQ flavor.  I wouldn't recommend any other types of sweeteners because I really don't know how they will behave in the microwave.  The stevia I use does not have fillers that will burn, so it's pretty versatile. 

To make the crisps-

Slice an ounce of either cheddar or colby jack cheese into 1/4 inch thick slices.  You can also use pre-sliced cheese cut into squares, but avoid pre-shredded cheese as they usually contain a lot of starches to stop the cheese from sticking together.

On a sheet of parchment paper, put your cheese squares in a pile and sprinkle on your BBQ seasoning.  Rub it on a little bit and slide it all around on the parchment to pick up as much of the seasoning as possible.  Be generous here.  I actually sprinkled a little more on mine after I took this picture:



Spread out your cheese squares in a circle, giving them lots of room to melt down, and microwave them on high anywhere between 1 minute 45 seconds to 2 minutes.  Keep an eye on them.  You want them to be nice and firm, just starting to brown slightly.  As soon as they come out and are still a little greasy, sprinkle them with just a little more seasoning.  I especially love doing this so there's that feeling like regular BBQ chips on your fingers and lips.  Allow them to cool, and that BBQ flavor will suddenly punch through.  I noticed when they're still hot it's not as pronounced.

Enjoy as they are, or with your favorite dip!





P.S.- I am not an affiliate of Vitacost.com.  I include their links in my posts because I am thoroughly impressed with their products, costs, and customer service.  If you haven't ordered from them before, click HERE for a $10 dollar coupon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pumpkin Waffle Sticks


Making home made waffles was always one of those things that got on my nerves, even before starting a low-carb lifestyle.  I really hated having to stand there for what seemed like eternity, just to make a few uneven, somewhat mushy waffles.  And then, there's the mess of batter all over your counter to go along with it.  It used to be so much easier to just open a box, throw them in the toaster, gripe about how you wish you had a 6 or even an 8 slot toaster so you could make breakfast for everyone in a flash, and move on.  

Well, if it's not clear to you yet, going low-carb doesn't come with a lot of prepackaged options, and that's not really a bad thing.  Yes, you start out a chipper, bright eyed optimistic, "I can cook every meal, every day, and even pre-plan and freeze some stuff and love it all, all the time" fresh healthy food fanatic, and then you find yourself getting nostalgic as you roam through the supermarket with all of it's colorful boxes full of frankenfood, reminiscing about how it used to be so nice to have "dinner" ready in less than 10 minutes (even though said dinner contained more chemicals than the materials used to make your couch) and suddenly you find yourself making meals out of little more than Cheese Crisps, a glob of peanut butter, and maybe a strawberry or two.  Hasn't happened to you yet?  Wanna come cook for me?? 

Of course I'm being a bit sarcastic (just a teeeeensy bit), but it is a fair representation of what I go through fairly regularly.  I love to cook.  I really do.  Sometimes though, I just don't want to (cue 3 year old tantrum).  When I get like this, I pull out my big binder full of fantastic low-carb recipes that at some point I swore I would make, and I pick one.  I'm ALWAYS ooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing at the waffle recipes, since I'm a big time waffle-aholic, but just like standard waffle recipes, low-carb recipes just seem to fall a little flat.  The thing is, even with standard non low-carb waffle recipes, without a good waffle iron, standing there forever waiting for your waffle is an exercise in futility.  It's just not going to come out right unless your iron gets nice and hot.  Does that mean you have to spend a ton?  Nope!  Look for one that has an adjustable thermostat and keep it cranked up high while it's preheating.  I got this one right here as a Christmas gift, and I love it!  In fact, that's the one I used to make these fantastic pumpkin waffle sticks.  

Oh, you want to make pumpkin waffle sticks too?  Of course you do!  I used this fabulous recipe I got from 24/7 Low Carb Diner.  Lisa always has spectacular recipes, so I had a feeling these would be great!  You know what?  They were!  I'm not the biggest fan of flax, and some brands can taste down-right yicky, but when I do use flax, I always choose Flax USA's.  It doesn't have that really bad aftertaste, and it's really nutty and mild flavored.  Oh!  By the way...  If you haven't ordered from Vitacost before, sign up right here for a $10 coupon.  YES!  $10!  Their coconut oil is excellent also, and one of the few brands I use all the time. 

Where was I again?  Oh yeah.  The waffles.  Sorry, I get really excited by good deals and great products.  These waffles were great!  Super filling, which made making sticks out of them so much better, and even though the batter wasn't pourable, it still spread out pretty well on the hot iron.  The only thing I did a little different, was I added a little splash of vanilla extract.  It just seemed like it needed it, but would be just fine without it.  I also used plain erythritol instead of Swerve, so I used a little less.  1/4 cup to be exact.  My waffles look a little dark, but they tasted really great and I think my addition of vanilla may have darkened them up just a little.  The best part about these?  They were nice and firm.  No floppy mushy waffles here!  YES!  Exactly what I was hoping for.  Give them a chance to cool off a bit, and you'll find them nice and firm.  Even better, was they kept nicely in the freezer, toasting up beautifully a few days later for a quick breakfast.  Next time, I'm doubling the batch so I have enough to put away in the freezer for when I have another battle with the no-cooking blues.

If you want to enjoy some wonderful pumpkin waffles too, please visit this link -  24/7 Low Carb Diner - Happy Harvest Waffle Sticks.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

BBQ Kale


Oy!  How long has it been since I popped in and shared something?  Waaaaaaaaay too long.  No worries, everything is alright, just have had other things on my plate - no not literally, well maybe just a little, but between being busy and suddenly having what can only be described as mind boggling frustration in the kitchen, I had to take a bit of a breather.  

See, I'm not a mega super hero pro-blogger with lots of artsy photos and plans to take this to the moon (though in it's own time that would be lovely).  This is more of a hobby of mine, and a way of helping out folks in the Low-Carb community, the same community from which I derived tremendous amounts of support and knowledge.  I get side tracked.  I end up with a file full of photos of food I want to share, but can't string together 3 sentences about it since I'm distracted by the lingering list of things to do (and my own gnat like attention span).  As much as I want to tell you expect a ton more stuff from me in the next few weeks, it's probably a safer bet that I'll be busy forgetting clothes in the wash machine, getting that oil change I've put off for a few hundred thousand miles more than I was supposed to, doing some weird project I found on pinterest, or burning yet another pan of low-carb goodies.  You never know though, sometimes I even surprise myself.

One of my absolute favorite bloggers on the planet is DJ Foodie.  Not only are his recipes top notch, but his stories and sense of humor always have me cracking up.  But he's a chef with a crazy amount of experience cooking...  I can't possibly cook like that!  Oh yes you can!  He has recipes all over the spectrum from super easy to hey I'm up for a challenge and don't mind something a little more tedious.  I have yet to make one of his recipes and be disappointed.

This one is a little funny.  I've never made kale in any other way than a kale chip.  I don't really love those, though they're good in their own right.  I guess it's because I hate calling things by a different name.  Chips are chips.  Kale chips are more like kale sharp crinkley things.  I guess that's not very appealing sounding, but it's not a chip.  Wanting to add more kale into my repertoire, I searched for kale recipes that were anything but a chip.  Not really impressed by kale before, there was little hope that this Garlicky BBQ Kale recipe was going to do it for me.  Well, it did.  

At first approach, I balked at the amount of garlic the recipe called for.  Even though I know garlic sweetens up, I still had my reservations.  So, I used only a little.  While it was still pretty good, it just didn't feel right.  Next approach I went full on vampire repellant.  I still may not have put in as much garlic, but that was only because, well, I just didn't have enough!  My tiny heads of garlic just didn't have that many cloves.  Still and all, I put a lot of garlic in there.  I even put a really cool method of peeling garlic to the test!  Check out this video right here from Peace Love & Low Carb.  While I still had a few stubborn peels, the majority were off!  Cool!!! 

My final verdict, use the garlic, and a smidgeon less bbq sauce.  I settled on 3 tablespoons so I can pick up on more of the surprising sweetness from the kale, and less of the sauce.

If you're still in induction, be extra tedious about how you measure your garlic and kale since they are on the carbier side.  My suggestion would be to remove the thick stems, then weigh the kale before you wash it so you have an accurate measure of how much kale you really are putting in the pot.  Same with the garlic.  While I have NO qualms whatsoever blowing my carb allowance on an extra serving of kale, I really think the first two weeks of induction should be adhered to as best as possible, and the extra steps of being accurate and counting are worth it.  

Are you still reading all of this?  Come on!  Grab your kale and get cooking!  Closer to maintenance and have a few more carbs to play with?  Throw a little thin sliced red onion in with the garlic.  You can find the recipe for DJ Foodie's Garlicky BBQ Kale right here.

Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Two Minute Peanut Flour Cake


    Okay.  I'm a bad blogger.  I have been making myself these all summer as a fast, satisfying, grab and go breakfast, and didn't share the recipe.  Smack my hand!!  Bad blogger!  No, I wasn't being selfish, I just, kinda, forgot.  For some bizarre reason, I had it down-pat and ready to write up, and just, didn't!  Woops!

    My first intention with this recipe was to come up with another way to use my peanut flour, in a small, more convenient way, since making a nice big batch of Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal is not really an OH EM GEE I have 5 minutes to leave the house and need to have something for breakfast kind of recipe, unless of course you already have a batch ready since you're a better planner than I am.  At first I started making these as muffins in a ramekin, but, they were a bit too big and would end up all over my microwave.  Rather than try to halve an egg, I changed my focus to a quick cake, since, well who doesn't want to have cake for breakfast, right?

    I'm also always trying to find more ways to incorporate coconut oil into my diet, since I always feel great when I make an effort to have it more often.  My memory improves, my mood is better (that's always a good thing), my skin looks fresher, my energy and activity levels go up, and I have more stamina when the seldom urge to exercise crops up. 

    This cake goes together really quickly, is ready in a flash, and can be tailored to your taste buds rather easily.  Sometimes I throw in a teeny pinch of salt for a more peanut buttery flavor, sometimes I put a pinch of stevia powder when I want a sweeter cake.  Stevia really pumps up the sweetness of the erythritol, so if you're looking to go a little sweeter, I recommend using the stevia along with the erythritol.  Otherwise, I like the cake just as it is.  Feels more breakfasty.  It's also great cold, if you find yourself with a bit leftover.

    Two Minute Peanut Flour Cake:

    Ingredients:
    In a microwaveable bowl, mix the almond flour, peanut flour, erythritol, baking powder, and salt or stevia if using.  Stir to mix together really well.  Using a the back of a spoon, add the coconut oil to the mixture by pressing it and sliding against the bottom of the bowl while stirring to make a crumbly mixture.  This step is really important.  Be sure all of the dry mixture has been worked into the coconut oil before adding the egg.  If you're into having lots of dirty dishes, beat an egg in a small bowl and then add it to the mix, or do like I do and move your mixture over to the other side of the bowl, drop your egg in the emptier side, then start to stir it, gradually adding in the mix.  Who needs an extra dirty bowl?

    When the everything has been well mixed, if you are doing my super artsy chocolate swirl, shake up the sugar free chocolate syrup, and without squeezing it, just letting it pour out slowly, drizzle a nice spiral across the top.  Feel free to be as artistic as you like.  Hearts, smiley faces, stars...  you get the idea.  Microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds.  Allow to cool off and set.  Warning!!  It will be very hot!  If you're not using the chocolate syrup - though I really suggest you should - reduce the time to around 1:15 and check it, adding 10 seconds or so if needed.  Sure you could be even more detailed and mix the chocolate syrup into a bit of the batter and then use that as your swirl on top, but I'm into this for the speed, not really going for pretty here.



     Enjoy!